Category Archives: Home education

Painting stones

On Saturday, I read Jennie’s post about a brilliant messy art session, which started off with a plan to paint some stones and led to some glorious toddler body art as the twins decided it would be more interesting to paint themselves.  I tweeted Jennie saying “I love this! Wonderful how E and W took it in the direction they wanted to and you let them. Child led play is the best!”

I was thinking about this on Sunday, when I gave Rabbit and Tiddler some paint in the garden while the big boys were at choir.  I suggested that they might paint on the garage doors to start them off, and then waited to see what they would come up with next.  They enjoyed painting the doors, and even painted the handle with black paint.  (Unfortunately I forgot to warn daddy!)  After a few minutes, Rabbit asked if she could paint some stones.  We have quite a good collection of stones, rocks and shells, and they spent a lot of time painting them, and Tiddler also painted a piece of wood.  Monkey joined in when he got back from choir, and then Owl had a go later in the evening.  It didn’t lead to any total body art this time, although Rabbit did paint her hand and made a lovely gold handprint on the table!

Book Day

On Friday, we decided to have a book day.  Owl had suggested it when we were tidying the children’s bedrooms last weekend and I commented that we had more books than we could ever have time to read.  I really liked the idea of a whole day centred around books, so we did it.  After Owl and Monkey were back from their early morning violin lessons, and while Tiddler was at his Musicbox class with Supergirl, we started with a little bit of time working on the Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child activity books.  After that the children collected all the soft toys they could find that were story characters, then hunted for as many of the matching books as possible.  They then spent a long time setting up displays of each set of books and toys, and we talked about the possibility of making some story sacks.  We have done this before, for Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the Three Little Pigs, but it was a couple of years ago and the contents have long since been scattered around the house (and some of them returned to the charity shops from whence they came) so we need to start again.

This all took a really long time and we suddenly realised it was time for a rather late morning snack.  The children were keen to have a book-themed snack, and the only thing I could think of was sandwiches using dinosaur cutters.  So we collected up our Harry and the Dinosaurs books, and they made dinosaur-shaped jam sandwiches and had a drink of milk in their dinosaur cups.  While they were eating, I read “Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs” to them.  When Tiddler came back from Musicbox, he was keen to join in and the others were not happy with him spoiling their displays.  I read one of the Thomas books to him, carefully replaced it in exactly the right position, and then did my best to keep him out of the way while the big three finished the displays and read some of the books.

In the afternoon, the children spent some more time reading and playing by themselves, then we did some messy play together with water beads and ice, which I will blog separately.  They then watched some DVDS (Kids Praise Party and Friends and Heroes) while we were waiting for daddy to come home with pizza for supper.  He was a bit later than expected, and I thought the television had been on for long enough, so I offered to read to them instead.  We read “Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Book?” by Lauren Child, which is very funny and clever – highly recommended!  We enjoyed our book day so much, and have so many ideas for what else we could do, that I think we might do it every Friday.

Easter crafts and an egg hunt

This weekend we are staying at Granny and Grandpa’s again.  We arrived on Friday evening, and before we were even out of bed yesterday morning the children were talking about the Easter crafts they would like to do.  Rabbit and daddy started the day by reusing a Christmas decoration to make an Easter garland.  It is a silver chain with stars on, and they drew, decorated and cut out lots of Easter eggs to stick on the chain, alternating with the stars.  Owl, Monkey, Tiddler and I also decorated one egg each, but daddy did quite a few and Rabbit did the most.  While they were doing this, Monkey made a bunny basket (an idea which we have used before, from our Usborne book of Easter things to do.)  He did it fairly independently, with just a little help from daddy, and I was so impressed that I went to the village shop and bought some sweeties to put in it!

In the afternoon, we went to the church for some more craft activities and an egg hunt.  The children decided to start with the egg hunt, and got plenty of fresh air running round the church yard looking for printed eggs with a letter on.  They had to write down the letter and unscramble them to find something we eat at Easter.  The big boys did theirs independently, and daddy helped Tiddler while I helped Rabbit.  I was very proud of her efforts writing all the letters herself, and then writing the answer (hot cross bun). We then went inside the church, and the children had a wonderful time making daffodil windmills, Easter baskets, scratch art eggs, Easter bonnets and decorated foam eggs with magnets on the back.

Later in the afternoon, I made chocolate nests with Rabbit and Tiddler (much better than the ones we made on Wednesday, mainly because we had enough chocolate this time.) After that I tried dyeing hard boiled eggs with all the children.  I got them to stick stickers on (shiny ones so they wouldn’t soak off in the water – well that was the idea) and draw on them with wax crayons, before placing them in a bowl of water mixed with lots of food colouring.  It wasn’t particularly successful because most of the stickers came off, though some stayed on better than others.  So if we try it again, I will get a wider range of stickers to see which ones work best.  Also, despite using about a third of a bottle of food colouring, the dye wasn’t really strong enough.  I think we will just have to revert to our usual method of drawing on them with felt pen, and maybe try again with the dyeing next year.

Anyway, overall it was a succesful happy crafty day, and we are all having lots of fun.  Hope you are too.  Happy Easter!

At Granny and Grandpa’s house

Last week, from Tuesday to Sunday, we were at Granny and Grandpa’s house.  During the week, Daddy and Grandpa weren’t there because they were working, but we were all together again at the weekend.  These are just a few of the things we did:

Owl and Monkey worked on their Maths and English, practised the violin and did lots of reading.  Owl did some Latin, reviewing his flashcards and teaching some of the words to Monkey.  He later had a more in-depth Latin lesson with Grandpa!

Monkey and I played Scrabble, Tiddler did puzzles and I played Frustration several times with Rabbit.  They all had a go on the NASA kids website, and did BBC Bitesize (Science and Literacy).  We read a lot of stories, including some new ones which we bought with our World book day tokens.

Rabbit and Tiddler iced fairy cakes with Granny.

Rabbit made a cafe with real and toy food, and wrote labels for the food and drinks. She also made Smarties and carried them around the house in a tray, selling them.

Rabbit wrote a pirate story.  It was all her own idea.

The cafe game was so much fun, we had to do it again the next day.  Rabbit and Monkey made some new signs.

Owl went to a church kids’ club, where they made Easter baskets, played games and ate chocolate.

We celebrated our Wedding Anniversary, and it snowed!

Rabbit and Tiddler made cards for us.  All the children performed in a show they made up for us , reading or reciting poems, and dancing.

Owl and Monkey played with Lego a lot.  Among other things, they made a statue, a swimming pool and a display of figures from my childhood collection to match a picture in their Lego book.

Lots of works of Art were created.

The last one is Rabbit’s picture of “The Whole Wide World.”

The Big Bang Science Fair

This post is written by Owl.

On Friday 15th March we (mummy, Monkey, Rabbit and I ) went to the Big Bang Science Fair at the Excel Centre in London.  We went on four trains to get there, and waited for our Home Education Group friends to arrive.  Then we went and watched a Strange Science show with lots of good experiments.  These are a few of them:

  1. The man presenting the show placed a glass funnel in a large jug of oil, and put his finger in the narrow end of the funnel to keep the air inside.  We could see the funnel clearly.  Then he took his finger out and the funnel became invisible.  It was still there but we couldn’t see it because there was no air trapped inside and it filled up with oil.  The reason we couldn’t see it was that oil and glass have the same refractive index, while air is different, so the path of the light going through the oil does not change when it hits the glass, but it changes when it reaches the trapped air.  The man demonstrated this by shining a laser on it, to show how the path of the light bends when there is air in the funnel, but it is straight when there is no air.
  2. The man passed a low level of electricity through three volunteers from the audience.  It didn’t hurt them but was enough to play some music.  One person on the end of the line held a wire connected to a laptop which was playing music, another stood in the middle of the line, and the one at the other end held a wire connected to a speaker.  When their fingers were touching the music played, and when they separated it stopped.
  3. Finally the man touched two plasma balls at once with one hand and held a fluorescent tube light with the other.  The electricity passed through his body and the bulb lit up.  He said it hurt a bit so he didn’t ask for volunteers this time.

After the show, we had lunch and met up with some of our friends.  Then we explored the exhibition, which had so many stands but we could only look at a few.  These were some of the best ones:

  1. There was a stand about drugs, and I helped to do an experiment about caffeine.  I had to use a dropper to pick some daphnia out of a jar of water and place them on a slide under a video microscope.  We could see a heart beating on the screen and I had to count the number of heartbeats in 15 seconds and then multiply by 4 to calculate the number of beats per minute.  We then added some caffeine and counted again, and the heart rate was higher.
  2. On another stand there was a presentation about what happens when someone is in a car accident.  There was a dummy the size of a man, and some air was pumped into his chest to make it look like he was breathing.  There was lots of fake blood.  Some volunteers put bandages on him, and we discussed ways of making him comfortable.  I helped to put a mask on his face so he could have gas and air.  They said he would have to go the hospital for further treatment.
  3. Then I talked to a man about the landscape of Mars and he showed me some pictures of features of Mars to compare with similar features on Earth.  There were craters, volcanoes, plains and river beds that would once have been filled with water.

After that the little ones were tired so we went home.  I hope we can go again next year.

More Spring Art and Messy Play

I was already a little behind on blogging when my laptop finally broke beyond repair last week (it was around 7 years old.)  I have now borrowed a temporary replacement, so I can catch up a bit.  There are so many things that I would like to blog properly, but it is probably not going to happen.  So anyway, these are some of the things we did in the week beginning 11th March.  Having enjoyed experimenting with finger paint, we continued on our theme of writing and drawing with our fingers in a variety of materials.  At the beginning of the week we played with flour, and later in the week repeated the activity with cornflour mixed with water, which was very messy but great fun.

After the success of the daffodil pictures, I decided that we would do some more Spring drawings while we were on a roll.  Our garden has been full of beautiful crocuses for a while, and I brought some of them inside for the children to draw when we had Home Education group at our house.  I’m glad now that we got round to doing it before the snow returned.

We also had fun drawing the blossom tree in our front garden – a lovely springtime activity, though we did need to wrap up warm!  The children sat on a picnic blanket and observed the tree very carefully, taking their time over their drawings.  I think the passers-by were quite amused, by the looks we got, but the children took it very seriously and were proud of the results.  I haven’t taken photos of the drawings yet, so will have to add them later.  I was hoping to draw some more Spring flowers and create another display, but now that everything has been covered in snow again I think we will have to wait a while.

blossom tree 1

Egg box daffodils

We made some egg box daffodils yesterday for our Spring display.

Here’s how to do it.  You will need:

  • An egg box (we used one with twelve sections which was about right for four children.)
  • Some old cereal boxes.
  • Yellow paint, paintbrushes.
  • Scissors, stapler, double-sided tape or PVA glue, normal tape.
  • Green paper (for the stems, if they are for a display.  If you want them to stand up you could use sticks, straws or pipe cleaners.)

Cut the bottom of the egg box into sections, and trim round each one to neaten it as much as possible, but don’t worry too much if they are a little rough around the edges.  Cut petal shapes out of an old cereal box.  You need six for each daffodil.  Paint everything yellow!

When they are dry, arrange 6 petals in the shape of a flower head and staple them at the centre.

Use double sided tape or PVA glue to stick the egg box trumpet to the flower head.

Tape a strip of green paper to the back of the flower head.

These are the finished daffodils, along with our daffodil drawings, on our spring display.

While I was thinking about doing this activity nearly a week ago, I saw a blog post which reminded me to get on with it.  So if you’d like to try another (more detailed) version, have a look here.

Learning through play

The night before last a conversation on twitter got me thinking about learning through play, and in particular messy play activities to support early reading and writing.  So yesterday morning I decided that it was time to get the finger paint out, which I had bought a couple of weeks ago for this purpose.  I scooped some red and green paint out onto paper plates and Monkey and Rabbit spread them around and started exploring the texture.  Tiddler asked for white paint, so I found a black tray to give a more interesting contrast, but he asked for a paper plate so we transferred some of it onto one as well.  Owl came and joined in and for a while all four of them were happily occupied with spreading, squidging and mark making.  Then Owl extended the activity for the others by suggesting colour mixing, so we made brown and pink.  After a while, I suggested they might like to write or draw in the paint, and they wrote several letters, and drew a bus, a train, a sun and some shapes.

We had to stop when it was time for piano lessons, though I’m sure they would have carried on for a lot longer if we’d had the chance.  But it was a special day, as Rabbit joined the big boys and had her first piano lesson.   She did really well and enjoyed it, as did Monkey who is making very good progress, and Owl who was thrilled to start on his Grade 1 pieces after taking his prep test on Friday.  He enjoyed showing the certificate to his teacher, who said that if he got such good comments in Grade 1 he would get a distinction.

Back at home in the afternoon, I offered the children the chance to continue the finger painting activity.  Tiddler was really too tired, and the big boys decided they had had enough painting for one day, so Rabbit and I did it together.  This gave us the opportunity to focus on letter formation, and it was a really satisfying way to practise writing because any mistakes can be quickly “squished” and you can start again.  We did the letters from a to e first, and then m for “mummy”, some capital letters and a number 7!  Rabbit also enjoyed doing hand prints on paper, making “scratchy patterns” with her nails and drawing a spiral shaped fossil.

After snack time (some fruit arranged in a pretty pattern by Rabbit), we did some Maths together.  The boys were working on their times tables, and I decided to set up an “invitation to play” with plasticine for Rabbit.  I started making numbers, but had only made two when Tiddler came over and wanted to sit on my knee and “help” me.  He enjoyed counting the numbers, starting at 1 again every time I made a new one, carefully pointing to each number in turn.  He also self-corrected consistently, going back to the start when he made a mistake.  I knew he could count to ten (at least) but wasn’t sure if he had mastered one-to-one correspondence yet. Well it looks like he has!  While we were doing this, Rabbit came over to watch and I suggested she might like to make some numbers of her own.  She worked very hard to make the numbers 1 to 4 and was very pleased with the results.  She needed a little help to get the 3 to be the right shape, but did the others herself.

At the end of the afternoon, after a little bit of thank-you letter writing, we decided to draw some daffodils for our Spring display.  This was a second attempt, after drawing some flowers last week which were beautiful but didn’t look like daffodils!  This time, we looked carefully at the flowers, and discussed the shape of the petals and the trumpet before we started.  There was some initial reluctance as it seemed quite challenging, but they soon got into it and decided it was fun after all.  Tiddler did not want to be left out so I drew him a flower to colour.  But then he asked me to do the yellow bit for him.  And then the green bit.  However, he did write his name.  It is the yellow squiggle under the picture which you can see if you look really really closely!

Daffodils always make me think of a little boy called Freddie so I’m going to dedicate this post to Merry, and also to Jennie who started the conversation on twitter which made me get round to the finger painting.  Thinking of you and remembering Matilda Mae x

finger painting 26

How to make a teepee

This post is written by Monkey.

Teepee 1

Today I made a teepee with Granny.  This is how you do it.

You will need:

3 chopsticks



wrapping paper


How to make it

  1. First, hold one chopstick diagonally, then put another one diagonally across it.  Then cut some string and tie them together, leaving some string dangling.
  2. Place the third chopstick diagonally in between the two top bits of the other ones. Using the end of the string, tie it to the other ones.  Make sure it can stand up, looking like a bonfire, then tape over the string at the top to secure it.
  3. Next, cut a piece of wrapping paper big enough to go over the frame.  Then cut a long line in the paper so that you can wrap it round.
  4. Tape it in position, and a cut a shorter line for a door.  Then your teepee is done.

Teepee 2  Teepee 3